Your Guide to Keeping Yourself Happy and Healthy at Work
When job seeking, what do you look for? Are you looking specifically for a job that you could do and enjoy, or are you looking deeper into the company and what they can do to help you? Looking for a new role is all about you, your skills, what you can offer them and why you want this job. There is more to life than simply work and it is a good idea to think about this when applying for roles. You want to find a job that you will be happy in, whilst working for a company that is interested in keeping their employees healthy, happy, and well looked after. Happy and healthy mean different things to different people, simply because there is no one way to be happy. It is subjective. But ensure that you are factoring in your day-to-day life and the benefits a company can give you when applying. After all, this is where you’re going to spend 5 days out of your week, you need to know you’re putting yourself first. If you’re not currently job seeking, ask yourself if you’re happy in your current role, if not, what can you do to rectify that?
As stated above, your career is about you and understanding what you want to gain from it will help you in the long run. You should work to live not live to work and finding the right balance is going to be key for being happy in your job role.
The main question is, are you doing what you want to do? This question can relate to work, your personal life or a mix of both. However, my opinion is, if you’re not happy at work, are you really going to be happy at home? This can obviously be different for different people, but the idea behind that bold statement is, if you’re unhappy at work (where you spend the majority of your day) are you going to be able to separate your work life from your home life? It can be difficult to drop negative feelings at the end of the workday and just carry on as nothing is happening.
So, what do you want from your career? If you’re not currently happy, what can you do to change this? Is it the job itself, the hours, the company or even your line manager? Once you have figured out what it is you want and want to change, you can work from there.
If you are someone that loves their job but is still struggling. Ask yourself why. What is it that is causing you to feel unhappiness towards your job? This could be one of the things mentioned above or again, it can be different for everyone. What really matters is how you go about changing this and ensuring that you are able to go into work and have a happy and healthy mindset for the day.
Sometimes, all it takes is some time to start over and begin building new habits. Unhappy in the workplace doesn’t automatically mean that you hate your job and want a new one. There could be more underlying issues that you need to take a stand against. One thing you can try doing is to re-think the way you think about work.
Are you spending too much time there? When things get too much at work and tasks start to pile up, you may find yourself worrying about getting it all done and even spending a bit of extra time in the office / workplace or even finding it hard to turn off your computer at the end of the day. Spending more time than you should at work, is often the first thing to make us feel negatively towards it. We need time to sleep, exercise, eat and be social, it’s only human. So, when work gets in the way of the things we love to do, we can start to resent it. Try and make it your mission to start and end on time. If there’s that extra meeting, simply say that you finish at that time and you can do another day. Or do you still have things on your to-do list? You’re not a machine, add them to your checklist for tomorrow and work to prioritise things better in future. There are ways around it, it’s all about gaining good habits and working towards a better work-life balance.
Over the last couple of years, we have found ourselves working from home more. This may be something you want to keep in the future, it may not. However, hybrid working is becoming very common. Here are some habits you may want to start building now, to ensure a happier, healthier you at work:
- Go and meet your colleagues – If you’re home working and spend most of the day alone, make appointments to go and have team meetings in person every now and again. It’s always good to have some in-person communication.
- Take your breaks – this can feel impossible when you’re busy. But take your whole hour lunch, go on a walk, and make sure you eat. Do whatever you want in your lunch break, it’s your time.
- Prepare in advance – This could be preparing for a meeting or as simple as preparing your lunch the day before. Preparation in general can help us feel more at ease and take some weight off your shoulders.
What ever healthy habits you want to build, take the time for yourself. This could be the step you need to feeling better about work and on the way to a healthier you. Why not give it a try?
Sometimes working a bit later than usual may be unavoidable. However, you can’t do everything and sometimes you have to put yourself first and so no to work, even if you might find it difficult. It’s important to make sure that working late and putting yourself second, doesn’t become a long-term habit. You are there to do your job, in the given hours. The rest of the day is yours.
It can be difficult to find a good balance between work and play, especially when you enjoy your job. Just because you like the work, doesn’t mean that you should prioritise it all the time. This can have a long-term effect on your overall health and happiness and can cause you to resent the job in the future.
Finding a balance that works for you is important, not just following what everyone else does. It can be difficult at first to find the balance, but with practice and trying out new ways of doing things, you’ll get there. Whether this be through flexible working, better organisation at the beginning of your day or simply saying no to your employer when you’re finishing for the day, all steps towards a happier you at work are positive steps.
Afterall, an unhealthy work-life balance may be just the thing you need to help you feel more positively about work. Especially, if you feel like the job, isn’t the problem. Over the last few years, people have really taken time out to reflect on what really matters to them and have taken hybrid working in their stride. Maybe working from home would help, cutting down the commute can do wonders and give you that extra time in the day you may have been searching for. If you feel like this may be a problem, talk to your employer and raise your concerns. There are ways around it and I’m sure your employer would be more than happy to help you find the balance you need to enjoy work even more.
A good way at overcoming negative feelings about work, is to discuss them. Once you have thought about it, figured out what may be causing you stress or negative feelings towards work and taken time to assess the situation, talk to someone.
Sometimes, all it takes is the realisation and a chat with friends or family. Being able to get your feelings out into the open can-do wonders for your mental wellbeing. Ask for their time, express your concerns, feelings and even ask for their opinions, if you feel that will help. Talking to people and sharing can feel like a weakness for some, but it’s far from it. If you need help, get it. But it’s not always as simple as that. If you need it, you should escalate this and start discussing this with your line manager. There may be some things they can do to either help you feel more comfortable at work or changes you can make together to help you.
Once you have an idea on what you want to change, whether that be hybrid working, flexible working hours or even a change in role, you should begin to make a change. It’s one thing to know what you need and a whole new thing to action your choices. Suppressing negative feelings and experiences may work for a short while, but in the long-run, it’s going to cause more damage than good.
Put yourself first. It can feel slightly awkward at first to discuss these with your employer, especially if they’re the problem. However, if it’s necessary, remember that your HR team are there for you as well. You don’t have to talk directly to your manager, there are ways around it. Get the change but do it in a way that you find comfortable, and think will have the greatest effect.
The key to being happy and healthier at work, can be down to some very simple changes you can make to your day-to-day. There are more elements to the workday than waking up, starting work and then leaving for the day. Take advantage of the people around you to have a chat, take time out every few hours to get a coffee and always try to fit in something that you enjoy. And yes, I mean during work hours! (Typically, during your lunch break or coffee break)
Take the time to make lunch – If you have taken time, either the evening before or in the morning, to prepare a good lunch, you may feel more obligated to actually eat it and take your well-deserved break. You may feel like lunch is just for fuel, but you may find that making something you actually enjoy and not just throwing something in your bag, can help you feel more energised and ready for the second half of your day. You might even enjoy preparing it as well, after all, self-care includes what you put into your body.
Actually take your full lunch break – Many people are guilty of not taking their full break. You may feel like it’s a waste of time, feel guilty for not working or just be too busy. However, there is never anything more important than taking a bit of a time-out. This means you’re fuelled and the work you do, is more likely to be of better quality.
Find something you enjoy – Your breaks are there for you. If this means eating your lunch slowly and reading a book, then so be it. You might feel like you enjoy a walk, run some errands to make the end of your day more relaxing, go out with your colleagues or simply sit somewhere with a change of scenery. Lunch times in offices and workspaces have become very samey and it’s time to start using your time for what you want to do. There’s no rules about this and it might be the refreshing change you need.
Stay hydrated – Believe it or not, dehydration can cause fatigue and simply cause you to feel groggy and horrible. Stay hydrated and you can see a major improvement in your mood and your performance at work. Simple changes can have big effects.
When you’ve been having a tough time, either at work or at home, it can be easy to focus on everything that’s going wrong. It may start to feel like everything is negative and can easily start to feel like you’re drowning in it. We’ve all been there. But it’s important to try and pull your head above the water and focus on the things that are going to plan, even if they are small achievements, they’re still successes and shouldn’t be undervalued.
Work can be demanding. There are parts of the month or year that are always busier than others. It can feel like these busy times creep up on you and make it harder to get the work done. However, remember, you are doing something. Ticking off even one thing off your list, even if a small task, is an achievement. If you take each day at a time, step by step, things will slowly begin to get completed and you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
However, you shouldn’t feel like you are alone in this. You have colleagues and a team of people around you for a reason. To support each other. If you feel overwhelmed, there may be someone who has a spare bit of time to help. Communication is key, it’s kind of like, if you don’t ask - you don’t get. So be aware of other people in your team and work with them. If you help them, it’s likely that they’ll be happy to help you in the future. It can feel a little upsetting sometimes to ask for help at work, but you’re only human. Likelihood is, you have team targets as well.
Some days, simply getting out of bed and showing up is the biggest achievement you can make, but you did it. Some days will be better than others and vice-versa. If you spend a little bit of time at the end of each day focusing on what you have done, you can focus on what needs to be done tomorrow and go home with a clear head.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking time off, but the reality for some people is exactly that. People are ready to burn themselves out before they take time off, because some employers bully them into thinking that they should always be there. This is a toxic employer trait and if you are in this position, it might be time for you to find something that will give you the space and time you need to recharge.
Your annual leave is there for you to take it, you have earnt it. Working all the time is not healthy for you and can result in your work not being your best. If you need a day or a week off to catch up on things, go on holiday or spend some well-deserved time with family, then take it. Enjoy taking your holiday and get yourself excited for something. Having something to look forward to can really help your mood. It’s good practice to always have something to look forward too, whether than be another holiday planned, a weekend away or a national holiday. Being excited to be away from work can only energise you and help you feel better when you come back.
The same goes for sick days, you are given these for a reason. If you don’t feel well enough to work, for any reason, take the day off. You can end up making yourself feel worse or have a longer recovery period if you don’t give yourself the time you need. Taking a day off sick shouldn’t feel like a sin, it’s good for you and the employer to see eye to eye and know that they trust you to be telling the truth.
There are more options than just annual leave and sick days from work though. There is compassionate leave, mental health days and other things your employer should be offering you when you need it. If you feel like you need some time away, talk to your line manager if needed and see what can be done to accommodate your needs.
Taking time to recharge can help you feel miles better. Burn out should be taken seriously and the more measures you take to prevent it in the first place, the better the recovery can be.
There are many things we all do to ensure we are healthy physically from exercise to eating well. However, looking after yourself mentally is just as important and sometimes not as simple as healthy eating. We need to ensure that we are giving ourselves the time we need to recover from the day and rest but sometimes everything can catch up with us.
When you think about being healthy, what comes to mind? Because more often than not, a healthy mind is not included in the equation. We all have bad days but being able to move away from the bad days is what we need to stay mentally healthy. Sometimes, we find it a little harder to forget the bad days and they stay with us. There’s nothing wrong with this and we all go through these feelings, but not taking care of yourself so these bad days stay with you for a long time, is what causes things like burn-out, work anxiety and many more.
Sometimes we need help with our mental health, just the same as we would with our physical health. There seems to still be a stigma attached to mental health, but the sooner you can step away from that and realise that it’s not just you and there’s nothing wrong with this, the sooner we can all start to help each other.
If you feel like your job is affecting you in a bad way, there are some things employers offer to give you the time you need. These can include mental health days and sickness absence to help you have some time to recover. Other options include talking to HR or your manager, to see what else they can do to accommodate your needs. Everyone is different and there needs to be alternate approaches to everyone, so ask.
If you do feel like your mental health is being negatively affected by your job, it might be time to take action. Either in one of the ways mentioned above or finding a new role. Our jobs take up so much of our day, we shouldn’t put up with them taking away our right to feel happy. We can try and take steps to make it a better place, but ultimately, if it can’t be fixed, find something better worth your time.
Never forget that mental health is just as important as physical health.
You can take time to evaluate your situation and find a resolution, but other times, there is no way to fix it. So, if you’re unhappy with work and you’ve tried simple fixes, taking time to think, you have a good work life balance, then the last thing to do is think about leaving the role.
I was always told, that when you need it, the right opportunity will come along. This doesn’t mean that you will find a new job immediately, but it’s better to try and find something new, than be stuck in a miserable loop.
If you have tried and your feelings haven’t changed, start your job search. This could either be internally or looking for a job with a whole new company. We have an abundance of job seeking advice on E&TJ to help you with your job seeking journey and you can click here to find it.
There is no point in sacrificing your happiness and health for a job that doesn’t give you anything in return. We do have a choice and I’m not saying the transition will be easy, but after the job seeking journey has finished, I’m hoping that you will feel like it’s worth it.
Your health and happiness in the workplace is valid. Don’t ever feel like you don’t have another option because if you’ve tried to make changes and nothing has changed your feelings towards it, find a way out. Find the right place for you.